Dining room carpet protection from my little slobs?
February 14, 2011 10:40 AM   Subscribe

My dining area is carpeted and I have two young children who are experts at landing their food on the floor. We've been using plastic sheeting/vinyl table cloths under the kids, but I'm looking for a more elegant solution that wipes up easily.

Ideally, I'd like something that fits under the entire dining table. My youngest child has feeding difficulties, so there's lots of purées splattering on the floor. While I'm a fan of Jackson Pollack, I don't think my landlord will appreciate this effect on his carpet.
posted by Bushmiller to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about Chilewich floor mats?
posted by evoque at 10:47 AM on February 14, 2011

What about a pretty chair mat?
That one is pricey but you can google around and find other thick plastic and decorative mats that were made for use with office chairs but would work well for your purposes.
posted by rmless at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2011

I would take out the carpet and put in man-made hardwood or peel and stick vinyl tile. Anything else would still be a problem cleaning. Or if you can deal with it get some of those plastic carpet protectors like you use for an office chair.
posted by JayRwv at 10:51 AM on February 14, 2011

I don't know if this is an elegant solution, but it is festive and can be repurposed for underneath easels later on:

Splat Mats
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2011

Buy two really inexpensive area rugs from a place like Home Depot or Ikea. With lots of crazy pattern to hide the foodies. Then just switch them out for each other - when one gets dirty, put the clean one down. The dirty one can be sponged down and vacuumed and put back when the other one's a mess. I speak from experience, it's an easy way to go that doesn't look like you have office matting on the floor.

A good area rug can really tie the room together, in case you didn't know.
posted by iconomy at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

I would echo JwyRWv: replace the floor with laminates if the landlord allows. If not, though, consider that a stiff plastic sheet will ensure that you step in/on, crush, and track elsewhere all dropped food. Something that kind of holds the spills -- like iconomy's rug ISWYDTAndILikedIt -- will trap the crud so it can be cleaned up. Just don't skimp on the cleanups!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:59 AM on February 14, 2011

Great suggestions all around. Thank you!

We've tried cheap area rugs, but they've become really disgusting and not so easy to clean. Chair mats were considered, but the unusual shapes didn't really seem too practical. I like the concept of splat mats (not crazy about the colors) - if they're thick enough, a couple of 'em could do the job. I think the Chilewich mats (or something similar) could work - the only problem is they look nicer than the horrible pine green carpeting in my house.
posted by Bushmiller at 12:00 PM on February 14, 2011

Carpet on top of carpet has a weird feel and may creep a bit. You could buy a piece of sheet vinyl and put it on top of the carpet. Commercial vinyl will lie down better, and might be cheaper.

What's under it? Can you take up the carpet, lay vinyl, then replace the carpet when you go? The vinyl underneath could stay.
posted by theora55 at 12:27 PM on February 14, 2011

"... consider that a stiff plastic sheet will ensure that you step in/on, crush, and track elsewhere all dropped food... "

Good point.

Temporarily removing the carpet is a non-option. It's one giant continuous piece that run into the living room and hallway.
posted by Bushmiller at 12:49 PM on February 14, 2011

How about oilcloth? It comes in tons of different colors and patterns and is easy to wipe clean. You can get it for $5-10/yard (a yard of the fabric will be about 4 feet wide on the other side), or even buy a whole roll. Try your local fabric store so you can feel it and see if it would work for you.
posted by dayintoday at 1:27 PM on February 14, 2011

How about a floor cloth? These look nice, and you can also make your own from oilcloth (plastic coated canvas, available at most fabric stores). I would tack it down with upholstery tacks or something, to make it lie nice and flat.
posted by EmilyFlew at 1:30 PM on February 14, 2011

You could try some used tablecloths folded as mats -- easy to machine-wash frequently, might even be able to match the carpet color or make it look decent as opposed to plastic or vinyl. Pretty cheap at garage sales, eBay, Craigslist, etc.
posted by theredpen at 1:56 PM on February 14, 2011

I had never heard of oilcloth before. The things we learn. EmilyFlew and dayintoday both came up with the same idea at about the same time - thank you, both! I'm off to the fabric store...
posted by Bushmiller at 10:21 AM on February 15, 2011

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